Welcoming visitors to our homes is part of the holiday season. It means having to clean the house, cook the meals and prepare the guest room. But we don’t mind, because we long to see our guests. Whether it's a friend we haven't seen in a long time, a brother or sister who has come from afar, or our daughter's new boyfriend, we look forward to seeing them, listening to them, and having a great time in their presence. How good it is to welcome others in such moments!
Sometimes, welcoming is more demanding, like when the visitor is a stranger, a person in need or someone who bothers us. I remember participating in a large Scout jamboree that was interrupted by a tornado. Nearly a thousand of us young people became homeless when the wind blew our tents off their poles. Local residents were quick to respond, and I was greeted by a couple who offered me a bed, meals, a phone to call my parents, and some money for unexpected expenses. They could have refused: who was I to this couple, me, a young stranger? But they welcomed me as I was, in my hour of need. How generous it is to welcome others in such moments!
There are unexpected moments of welcome that transform us. Once, a speaker was on his way to our diocese to lead a training session for our staff. Since I had to pick him up late at night at the airport, I offered to let him stay at my place, which he accepted. I didn't expect that the conversation I would have with him would have such a big impact on me. My welcome turned into a moment of encounter that animated me and rekindled my enthusiasm. How life-giving it is to welcome others in such moments!
And how do we welcome Jesus who comes to us at Christmas? Do we take the trouble to prepare ourselves for the festival day simply to have a pleasant time? Do we allow ourselves to be disturbed by others, in a spirit of generosity? Do we allow ourselves to be transformed by an unexpected word that opens up new possibilities for us?
Christmas will take on the colour of our welcome. I hope that it will be warm and joyful for all of you. But above all, I hope it will be a source of new life. After all, that’s why He came!
+ Paul-André Durocher
The Vatican released Pope Francis’s message for the 31st World Day of the Sick, celebrated every year on 11 February, liturgical memorial of Our Lady of Lourdes. The Holy Father’s message is entitled: “Take care of him” – Compassion as a synodal exercise of healing. In light of the Church’s synodal journey, Pope Francis invites “all of us to reflect on the fact that it is especially through the experience of vulnerability and illness that we can learn to walk together according to the style of God, which is closeness, compassion, and tenderness.”
The theme for this year is “Do good, seek justice” (Isaiah 1:7). The materials for prayer and reflection have been prepared by the Minnesota Council of Churches (USA), in the aftermath of the 2020 extrajudicial killing of George Floyd and the trial of the police officer responsible. As local Christian communities sought to respond to the anguish of these events, they also recognized their own historical complicity in perpetuating racial injustice. Inasmuch as the Church is summoned to be the sign and instrument of the unity God desires for the whole of His creation (cf. Lumen gentium, 1), the continued divisions between Christians constitute a scandal: we are thus called to repent of our disunity and work together for reconciliation among all peoples.
Next Monday, January 9, on the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord, Archbishop Paul-André Durocher will preside at a solemn Mass in memory of Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI. All the faithful of the diocese are invited to join him for this moment of prayer in St. Joseph's Cathedral at 7:00 pm.
Hosting visitors in our home is part of the holiday season. We have to clean the house, cook the meals, prepare the guest room. We go to great lengths because this visit is expected. Whether it's a friend we haven't seen in a long time, a brother or sister who has come from afar, or our daughter's new boyfriend, we look forward to seeing them, listening to them, and having a good time in their presence. How nice it is to welcome the other person, in these moments...
The National Day of Prayer in Solidarity with Indigenous Peoples is celebrated on December 12 every year, on the feast day of Our Lady of Guadalupe, patroness of the Americas. The Canadian Catholic Aboriginal Council celebrates this day for prayer, solidarity and reconciliation, by issuing an annual message honouring Aboriginal people who were inspired by their Catholic faith.
The Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops presents Journey through Advent with the Most Rev. Joseph Dabrowski, CSMA, Auxiliary Bishop of London, Ontario. Join us as we reflect on the Scriptures for the Sundays of Advent 2022.
Pope Francis releases his prayer intention for November, inviting everyone to pray for the millions of children who are suffering around the world, especially for those who are homeless, orphans, and victims of war...
The Holy See’s General Secretariat of the Synod issued the Document for the Continental Stage (DCS) of the 2021-2024 Synod: For a Synodal Church: Communion, Participation, and Mission. The DCS is the result of the discernment of 112 contributions from episcopal conferences, including the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops (CCCB), as well as contributions from Eastern Catholic Churches, religious congregations, ecclesial associations and movements, the Vatican dicasteries, and individual contributions submitted to the General Secretariat of the Synod.